NEVER WENT LIVE: Stewart will not take the stand in her trial for double murder
THE former Sunday school teacher accused of murdering her RUC husband and her lover's wife will not give evidence at her trial, her lawyer told Coleraine Crown Court.
Lawyer Paul Ramsey told judge Mr Justice Anthony Hart that 47-year-old Hazel Stewart will not take the stand in the high-profile case.
She is accused of plotting with her ex-lover Colin Howell to kill his wife Lesley and her husband Trevor Buchanan in May 1991 and covering it up as a suicide pact. She denies the charges.
The judge asked Mr Ramsey if his client was aware that her decision not to give evidence would be taken into account by the jury of three women and nine men.
The barrister said Stewart, who sat impassively in the dock wearing a white shirt and her familiar plum coat, knew the situation. He told the court the defence would be calling no evidence in the case.
The development came on the 12th day of the trial after prosecutor Ciaran Murphy had closed the prosecution case.
The bodies of RUC man Trevor Buchanan (32) and Mrs Howell (31) were found in a car filled with carbon monoxide fumes in the seaside town of Castlerock, Co Derry.
Police first believed the pair died in a suicide pact because they were so depressed about the affair their partners were having at the time.
But 18 years after the deaths Howell confessed to elders in his church that he had killed them in their respective homes in Coleraine by gassing them with carbon monoxide piped from his car and then drove the bodies to Castlerock and staged the scene.
The dentist, who was sentenced to 21 years after pleading guilty to the murders last year, alleges that Stewart was his accomplice in the plot to rid them of their spouses.